Elders deny women’s molestation by US troops
KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): Tribal elders on Sunday rejected a parliamentary probe team’s claim that US soldiers sexually insulted women before killing them during last week’s night raid in southern Kandahar province.
On their return from Kabul, where they met President Hamid Karzai, the elders told reporters at the Kandahar airfield that the allegations amounted to disrespect to the women killed during the operation.
Last Sunday night, US soldiers raided three houses, killing 16 civilians, including women and children, in Panjwai district of the province. At least five people were wounded.
Following the massacre that sparked nationwide anger against foreign troops, 30 residents of the district met Karzai. On their return, the elders said the president had promised to try his best to try the perpetrators inside Afghanistan.
A day earlier, a parliamentary delegation said some US soldiers had sexually abused two women before they were shot to death.
"Whoever levels such allegations disrespects the dead and they should be punished," remarked one of the elders, Mohammad Azam Agha. "This baseless claim of the MPs has shocked and saddened the victims’ families."
Another elder, Khan Aka, also spurned the allegation. "The claim is aimed to to create problems and drive a wedge between the Afghan government and the international community."
Mullah Baran, a resident of Najeeb village who lost his brother in the incident, said: “My brother, his six children and wife were sleeping inside their house. My sister-in-law told me the entire story how the Americans killed her husband.”
He added: “The coalition troops then turned their guns to my brother’s children…we strongly reject the allegation of sexual harassment...”
The tribal elders renewed their demand for trying the perpetrators in Afghanistan, otherwise they would seek revenge on the troops on their own.
Khan Aka said: “The president has assured us that our demand will be met. If he fails to keep his promise, we will take action.”
The Pentagon says one US soldier, Robert Bells, was involved in the incident. The 38 years old soldier was shifted from Afghanistan to Kuwait before being flown to the US.
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